bunnyfish adventures


Hoe heet jij?
January 29, 2009, 11:00 pm
Filed under: Dutch culture, school | Tags:

I started taking Dutch classes this week.  Nederlands voor buitenlanders (foreigners), using the Delftse Methode (“Delft Method,” woo-hoo).  This is the third thing I’ve found Delft to be known for, following (1) pottery, and (2) the technical university.

The strange thing is that the “method” is just self-study based on memorization.  They want you to read the text with the audio recording so often that you know it without the book.  We have class two times a week, with a computer test before each class that is based off of software from 2001, and the test feels just as old and inflexible.  I got 0 out of 4 words correct on one question, because I entered in a telephone number with the wrong formatting.

The class, at least, is for conversation.  At tonight’s class, the teacher was already speaking all Dutch.  I wouldn’t feel so bad if this Polish guy didn’t already start improvising and carrying on conversations with the teacher during class.  The balance is tipped out of place: I thought the class would be a safe haven to practice with people who are equally shitty at the language.  I think I would be happier if we did something normal like split up in pairs to practice.

The “method” also seems to emphasize how small children don’t need lessons or tapes to learn a language, that they just listen and figure it out.  This means we haven’t learned any grammar, nor did they go over pronunciations.  I bought a different book before coming here that was immensely helpful by just deconstructing the pronunciations.  Look, you can stop rubbing it in that “kleine kinderen luisteren wel goed,” and “ze leren zonder lessen en zonder cassettes,” but maybe my brain works a little differently now that I’m 20 years older.  I already looked up a language tree before starting, all the other languages I have tried to learn (Spanish, Mandarin) are farther away from Dutch than English.  Unfortunate.

And I’m wondering if what they decide to teach you reflects anything.  We’ve learned about introducing our names, where we’re from, how old we are, where we live, the days of the week, when we have class, explaining why we want to learn Dutch and how, and that children kick our asses in learning new languages…  But not a simple “How are you?”

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2 Comments so far
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It sounds like these guys haven’t really subjected their theories to any sort of actual scientific study :p

Children’s brains are much more plastic, that is true. However, if look at it, all they’re doing when they’re acquiring language is being taught all the time, and without having to focus on other things like getting classwork done.

You’ll probably be better served by just reading up on the basic grammar of Dutch first.

But hey, at least Dutch is psychotically inflected, like Turkish or Finnish. You go ahead and try to learn what a 30+ character word means :p

Comment by Lumberjack

The speech cortex of the brain is matured at about age of 8 to 9 years old. You have to memorize the “strange language” after that age. Unfortunately you are older than that age limit!

Comment by rookwood




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